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Johnson C. Smith outlasts St. Augustine's, 84-80

By Herb White
Correspondent

Getting back to Brayboy Gym did wonders for J.C. Smith.

Four Golden Bulls starters hit double figures and a consistent stretch run were enough to outlast St. Augustine’s 84-80 in a CIAA South game Wednesday, J.C. Smith’s first division win. After going 1-4 in their previous five games, the Golden Bulls (12-6, 4-4 CIAA) got back to a familiar formula of getting inside to offset St. Augustine’s (10-7, 3-4) perimeter attack.

“I really thought we came together down the stretch and executed on the offensive end,” J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner said. “We played with some understanding on the defensive end, but not enough. St. Aug’s continued to battle, but the team played with more focus and more attitude.”

The Golden Bulls were determined to work the ball into the paint, where they outscored St. Augustine’s 50-20. Forward Emilio Parks pumped in a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds by working the low post while Robert Williams slashed for 18, including a drive that put J.C. Smith ahead for good at 61-59. LaMarquis Letchaw provided the perimeter punch with 16 points and Antwan Wilkerson chipped in 10, but 5-3 point guard Dre Huntley, who joined the team in late December, had perhaps his best game with a third of J.C. Smith’s assists and six points to go with a pair of steals.

“He’s still learning the offense, but he’s going to be a good talent for us,” Joyner said.

St. Augustine’s gave the Golden Bulls all they could handle with Amere May going off for 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting and Raheem Joliffe hitting six 3-pointers to finish with 20. The Falcons nailed 10-of-17 3-pointers compared to J.C. Smith’s 3-of-6, but were undone by the Golden Bulls’ dominant inside attack and 17 turnovers compared to the home team’s 10.

The first half went back and forth with eight lead changes and nine ties before J.C. Smith took a 39-38 margin into the break. Williams led the Golden Bulls with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting while Letchaw added eight on 3-of-6 shooting. Joliffe paced St. Augustine’s with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range that kept the Falcons in the hunt. Both offenses were efficient, with the Golden Bulls nailing 55.6 percent of their shots (15-of-27) against St. Augustine’s 51.7 percent (15-of-29). J.C. Smith neutralized the Falcons’ advantage from the arc (5-of-8) by converting 7-of-11 free throws, including Parks’ 4-of-6 compared to Augustine’s 3-of-4.

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